“Mommy, what does it mean to covet?” At the time, my girls were memorizing the Ten Commandments. When my five year old came to the commandment “Do not covet,” bless her little heart, she just wanted to know what it meant! The teacher in me was proud to give her an impromptu vocabulary lesson.
So in my best mommy voice, I told her that “when you covet, it means you want something that God has chosen to give someone else.” God gives us all different things – different families, different houses, different talents – and we should learn to be happy with what He has given us, and NOT want what He has given to other people instead.
She pondered that definition for a few moments….and then she replied, “So that one time when we left so-and-so’s house and you told Daddy you couldn’t wait to have a big house like that? Was that coveting?” Hmmmmmmmm, yep! It sure was.
Any other Mommas out there know how much the Lord can use your littlest loves to teach you a thing or two about how to walk in His ways. This was definitely one of those examples for me!
Now, in my defense, we were leaving a Bible study that was hosted at a home large enough to accommodate a big group of people. The context of our conversation was that I couldn’t wait until we had a home big enough where WE could be the ones hosting cook-outs and Bible studies. Our itty, bitty rancher of less than 1,000 square feet could hardly fit our family of four! Much less squeezing extra bodies into it comfortably for a community group.
Essentially, I was choosing to be ungrateful for the blessing of our own home and found myself wishing for the “one days.”
One day I’ll have a house I’m proud of. But should that be what I place my pride in??
One day I’ll have a house big enough to host our friends in. But should I have let our teeny, tiny, 980 square foot home hinder me from inviting over even one other couple for dinner?? Do I have to host large dinner parties in order to be hospitable?
One day I’ll have a house with enough closets and storage space. But should I really be holding on to all the “stuff” anyways?
When we covet, it’s like we are saying that what He has chosen to give us in that moment of time isn’t good enough. I am trying to teach my girls (and myself!) that I have EXACTLY what God wants me to have right now – in finances, talents, looks, and friendships.
By finding true contentment, I can use these things as tools to further the Kingdom of God, instead of tokens to be proudly displayed for all the world to see. I am trying to instill these principles into my girls as well. Here are ten tips to help you do the same.
1 – Recognize that what you have isn’t really yours…it’s His. He has entrusted you with specific things for a specific purpose. What have you been given that can be used to bless others?
2 – Start a gratitude journal. When you find yourself wishing or wanting (or coveting) for more, retrain your thinking to be grateful for what you do have. Buy a gratitude journal like this one or this one. Or use a journal you already have. Make a list of things you are thankful for today. This list can include memories, special moments, words of encouragement someone sent your way, or something as simple as the beautiful weather that day.
3 – On that same wavelength, keep a “blessings” journal whenever you feel discouraged. I had a journal that I used to write down all of the things people blessed us with. Furniture, meals, clothes, etc. I documented actual tangible things that people passed down to us that met our needs. When we hit a hard week, I would look back at all of the ways God had provided for us before and be encouraged that He had it all under His control.
4 – Remember that there are others who have less than you. Recognize that no matter how bad it is for you, others have it worse right now. Are you unhappy in your 980 square foot house? Remind yourself that some people will never have credit high enough to own their own home. Are you grumbling about the workload you have to bring home every night? Rejoice in the fact God has seen fit to give you a job when others are unemployed or unable to work. Are you complaining about your children’s misbehaviors and bad attitudes? Take a moment to thank God for blessing you with children! Many women are unable to have them.
5 – Regularly give (things, money, and time) to others. Sometimes the easiest way to stop dwelling in your own discontentment is to put others’ needs before your own. Deliver a meal to a friend who just had a baby. Bake cookies for the elderly neighbor down the street. Find a way to bless those around you.
6 – Stop the rat race of “stuffitis.” Stop collecting things. Focus on memories and experiences that you can make happen NOW instead of the “one days.” Make your holidays more about traditions instead of gifts. If you have a heart to host others, only have one or two other couples in your tiny home at a time. Focus on quality friendships with great discussion and intimate hang outs.
7 – Find contentment in ALL situations. I LOVE the space in our new home. But I LOVED my itty, bitty house too. I loved the colors I used to decorate with. I loved the systems I learned to keep our things organized. I loved how close it brought my girls together by having to share a room. Be content whether you have a lot or a little.
8 – Stop worrying! He will provide! I know this might seem like common sense, but we should know (and teach our kids) that when we worry, we are disobeying God. I don’t mean thinking or planning. I mean dwelling on things we shouldn’t be dwelling on – worrying! When we catch ourselves worrying, we should say a quick prayer asking God to help us rest in the assurance that He is in control and to help us trust in Him.
9 – Keep your eyes on Him and ask that He breaks your heart for the things that break His. The more you pray for Him to give you the desires of HIS heart, the more you will see your wants and wishes change.
10 – Be faithful with what little you do have. He who is faithful with little will be faithful with much. He chooses different things for different people in different seasons of life. Look at what little you have as what Christ has chosen for you to have right now. When you are faithful with the little God has entrusted to you, the more you recognize that these things are tools to spread the gospel and love others, the more content you will be. God blesses those who bless others. Maybe not financially, maybe not with a huge house, but with peace and purpose and, you guessed it, contentment.
It’s all well and good to dream for the future. But don’t let your dreams morph into resentments that hold you back from today. Recognize that Christ is sovereign and you have exactly the things you need for right now.